SLUTNIK 2: Planet of Incels has cult classic written all over it. Think lashings of The Rocky Horror Show liberally mixed with Magic Mike and you have a starting point. The theme is women treated poorly and men behaving badly. It is a play with a series of up-tempo musical numbers, accompanied by buff male dancers. Unfortunately, I didn’t see SLUTNIK, which premiered in February 2022, as part of Midsumma. Fortunately, in the foyer of Theatre Works is a useful ready reckoner, which in half a dozen frames, complete with visuals, explains the back story.
The SLUTNIK 2: Planet of the Incels’ program also notes that more than a century ago a crew of lesbian space cannibals left Earth and its problems behind. Today, their descendants and the artificially intelligent Motherboard (Matilda Rose Gibbs) are forced to emergency land their battered star-ship on a foreign planet. There, they come face-to-face with the difficulties they thought they had left behind: men.
In need of assistance and suggesting a trade, 3122 Florence (Sara Reed) extends the hand of friendship, even though Motherboard warns her to be wary. Indeed, Motherboard’s instincts are spot on as these rhinestone cowboys are horrible – two faced, self-serving, misogynistic and downright nasty. They humiliate and degrade one another, let alone try to exploit the unfortunate situation in which 3122 Florence and Motherboard find themselves.
Pulling the strings is Jon (Ben Smith), appropriately kitted out in black. Foremost among the recipient of his bile is Neo (Ethan Morse), although Elon’s (Michael Cooper) “ugliness” is cause for discontent. Elliot’s (Ben Ashby) attempts at “breaking bread” with 3122 Florence are swiftly denounced by Jon. The final piece of the men’s showcase is Ben (William Strom), who appears to delight in the putdowns.
SLUTNIK 2 is loads of sexualised fun, which – I dare say – will find greatest favour among a younger audience. Written by Flick, the show is clever and comedic, with strong performances. I was particularly impressed by the “robotic” turn from Matilda Rose Gibbs as Motherboard. Her eyes and movements were telling. So, too, the youthful enthusiasm and kindness inherent in Sara Reed’s portrayal of 3122 Florence.
The dance numbers are tuneful and feature feats of athleticism, which go down a treat. The music includes It’s Raining Men by The Weather Girls, Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now, Madonna’s Don’t Tell Me and Let Me Show You by K-Klass. Sand and glitter are ever present, while Emily Busch’s evocative costuming is triumphant. Complete with audio visual elements (the work of Derrick Duan), the punters’ visceral reaction (think wolf whistles) says it all. They lapped it up.
A lot of words are spoken (the show is 100 minutes without interval) and I thought the final act would have benefited by being tightened. Still, with direction from Tansy Gorman, SLUTNIK 2: Planet of Incels is a rambunctious romp. It is playing at Theatre Works until 16th September, 2023.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- Motherlod_^e (Frenzy Theatre Company) – theatre review
- The Nightingale and the Rose (Theatre Works) – theatre review
- Day After Terrible Day (Theatre Works) – theatre review
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.